From: eifeldman "at" drikungboston "dot" org
Subject: Follow-Up, Somerville Disability Commission mtg. 10/16/06
Date: October 19, 2006 1:01:10 AM PDT
To: RTranfaglia@ci.somerville.ma.us, firstname.lastname@example.org
TO: Richard Tranfaglia, City ADA Coordinator
FROM; Eileen Feldman, Chair, Somerville Disabilties Commission
DATE: October 18, 2006
It was nice to see you at our October Disabilities Commission meeting, and I am
grateful for the efforts you make to attend our meetings.
Especially appreciated were your comments regarding your commitment to ensure
that the city is ADA compliant, and your offer to meet and talk about this. I'll be happy
to do that again, as soon as a time is mutually available. I believe that V.P. Craig
Fletcher will also be able to join us, and bring his considerable expertise and
knowledge to the table, as well- so let's arrange a time that's convenient for all three of
Thank you, also, for agreeing to read the report we wrote for the Mayor and the Office
of Strategic Planning and Community Development (which we handed to them on
December 15, 2005). It does contain a pretty thorough review of our ideas to
proactively help the city's residents with disabilities gain more civil liberties and
opportunities-- in the context of an administrative commitment to a structurally
accessible environment. It can be found on our "Commission for Persons With
Disabilities" page at:
just click on the right sided link to download the Recommendations report- it is in .pdf
Without solid local government's prioritizing toward the greatest liberties and fullest
accessibility for people with disabilities, I am afraid our City is still stuck in the 19th
century. It really doesn't matter how many nifty new ideas are implemented- if people
with disabilities are left out of the planning and implementation of programs and
activities, we're still in the dark ages!
It is not the letter of the law that i am concerned about- it is the suffering of people with
disabilities...who are at approximately 20% of the City's overall population.
So, we talked about proactively creating a logical process to conduct a Citywide Self
Evaluation, which will be followed by a Transition Plan.
Such a plan should address the following:
1. Physical modifications of facilities to improve accessibility. Facilities include all
locations of city hall; police and fire stations; courthouses; teen centers; recreation
buildings; libraries; all parks; public (school) pools, playgrounds, ball fields and
bleachers; and all streetscapes and projects of the DPW.
Here are 4 priority goals for structural accessibility:
- accessible parking;
- accessible routes into and through the facilities;
- accessible rest rooms, drinking fountains, and telephones; and
- accessible service counters and concession stands, or the provision of services at
alternate, accessible locations.
2. Creation of procedures for relocating currently inaccessible activities to accessible
The ADA Coordinator should also ensure that the administrative mandates of Title II
are fully met. This means:
1. Conspicuous and continuing notice to the community of their ADA rights and the
City's ADA obligations. These notices should, in addition to the ones which are
posted at the first floor of City Hall and the City Annex, be:
· on the website, with your email and phone number and a description of your position
as ADA Coordinator;
· be available in Braille and also POSTED IN LARGE PRINT;
· be announced regularly via Channel 15 and also by agreement with Somerville Cable
Access TV. For example, you can ask SCAT to include this announcement in it's
regular weekly announcements, which also list City events, and communitywide
· please also make sure that an article is placed in the Somerville Journal and
Somerville News, and repeat it at least 4 times a year.
2. The establishment of an ADA grievance procedure. Such as process must be
thoughtfully designed so as to be accessible to all persons in all aspects, from beginning
In addition, COMMUNICATION ACCESS is very significant.
... With all the intellectual and cultural talent this City possesses, we could certainly be
a model of Best Practices in Communication Access! ...
This should include (this is not a comprehensive list):
1. The establishment of delivery systems and time frames for providing auxiliary aids
(qualified sign language interpreters and alternate formats (Braille, large print, cassette
2. installation of assistive listening systems in assembly areas (such as in municipal
auditoriums and court rooms, for example);
3. strengthening of 9-1-1 emergency services through the acquisition of additional text
telephones (TTY’s) to achieve a 1-1 ratio of TTY’s and answering positions; and
4. better telephone communication between the City and citizens with hearing or
speech impairments through the acquisition of additional TTY’s and/or utilization of
the state relay service, official publication of TTY/relay numbers, and training of
Re: the 3-1-1 system: It is marvelous that Sean Murphy, Director of Constituent
Services, came to our meeting, thoughtfully listened and responded, and then
integrated our suggestions into the 3-1-1 system, by working hard to get the budget for
a TTY line approved, and then implementing that resource with testing and training.
Not only that, but he also took the time to come on a SCAT call-in show, to ensure
that folks had an opportunity to learn more about the 3-1-1 resource, without having to
depend on the Web or the newspaper! Sean's attitude and response was, indeed, a
model of respectful and sincere work on behalf of residents with disabilities.
However, more TTY phones should be available throughout Somerville's streetscapes
(such as near bus stops, for starters), and the TTYs in the Public Safety Departments
should be tested (and operators trained, if necessary).
It will be logical to include people with disabilities in the design of this and other
features/functions of your office as ADA Coordinator- as consultants, and also, to test
out the assistive technology, which you'll be employing.
And, of course, please do ensure that the policies of the Personnel Department do not
contain qualification standards which would tend to screen out qualified individuals
I can't state strongly enough how important it is to realize that people with disabilities
desire to- and have the capacity, skills, talents and creativity to- fully participate in the
public marketplace, just like everyone else.
I'll give you a call at my earliest convenience. Please don't hesitate to call me.
With best wishes,